Analysts Begin To Replant iPhone 5 Slide-Out Keyboard Rumor

The iPhone 5 slide-out keyboard, once a zany rumor in 2011, is beginning to make its rounds again, with analysts believing that it will make the iPhone 5 a true business smartphone, thus killing off RIM.

History repeats itself — and so does the iPhone 5 rumor mill.

Just last week, we reported in another article how BGR was regurgitating an extremely old, extremely unlikely rumor that the iPhone 5 would feature a built-in bumper. It is discouraging to imagine that we will enter 2012 with more replaying of old iPhone 5 rumors, but that appears to be the case. Today, tech and financial prognosticator Midas Letter, in an article predicting the demise of RIM and its business-focused Blackberry smartphones, had this to say in passing: “That’s because the new iPhone 5 is rumoured to have a slide-out, tactile keypad. For many Blackberry veterans, the onscreen keyboard is the main barrier to making the swith to iPhone. With a tactile keyboard, that barrier is removed, and I think that will be the straw that breaks the Blackberry’s back.”

Midas Letter writer James West stated this with such conviction that I nearly fell out of my chair.

The nice thing about the iPhone 5 News Blog‘s proliferation of iPhone 5 articles is that we now have a repository of all the rumors and speculation concerning the iPhone 5 as far back as August of 2010. and I can tell you that the slide-out keyboard rumor for the iPhone 5 — just like the built-in bumper rumor — is nothing new. We wrote about it back on March 14th, 2011, in a hotly-contested opinion piece, where commenters seemed evenly divided on the issue.

The notion of a slide-out keyboard on the iPhone 5 — or on any smartphone other than a Blackberry for that matter — will always remain in play in the tech sphere, since the typing experience on a smartphone is still a contentious point. While a smartphone encourages users to text- e-mail, surf the web, work, and perform a multitude of other tasks by way of its touchscreen, users miss the tactile experience of a real keyboard. And while Android has sought to rethink the typing experience by offering swipe, iPhone users still feel that more innovation is needed.

But for as much as many people would perhaps like to see a slide-out keyboard added to the iPhone 5, there is no evidence to suggest that Apple is working on it. All throughout the Summer, nothing was ever reported on component-wise to suggest the addition of a slide-out keyboard, and we are still left with Steve Jobs’ negative view of them on smartphones. Unless tim Cook turns out to be of a completely different mind on them than from Mr. Jobs, the addition of the slide-out keyboard will remain unlikely.

Instead, one would imagine that Apple will continue to move toward voice recognition, opting for users to use their voice to compose with increased freedom and dexterity. In this way, Apple could do something to improve on the cumbersome nature of the touchscreen typing experience without copying the swipe function of Android. Or, maybe that really cool, sci-fi inspired holographic keyboard will come into play someday. One can dream.

But one thing is for sure: all of the wacky iPhone 5 rumors from last year seem to be coming back with a vengeance. We’ll keep our eye out for them.

By Michael Nace


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